Rive Gauche 2: On Technocrat prime ministers…..

And… on that note… back on the morrow with a blog about law bloggers… and… I may even have time to do a ‘Postcard’..

It is fairly obvious that I am not enamoured of ‘technocrats’.

Bread and circuses.. or as we say at The Duck and Biller... a fine bar in my imagination…  …. panem et circenses…  aided by Wikipedia… “is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion, distraction, and/or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace.The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man (l’homme moyen sensuel).”

Jeez… tell me that Prime Minister Camcorderdirect didn’t get his farkin Big Society idea from Wikipedia?  Nothing, however, would surprise me.

I did like this quote – also in Wikipedia – “American author Robert Heinlein said, “Once the monkeys learn they can vote themselves bananas, they’ll never climb another tree.”

Enjoy the weekend…

8 thoughts on “Rive Gauche 2: On Technocrat prime ministers…..

  1. I don’t recommend this circus. The balancing act is a bloke with two pennies, but he keeps dropping them, the ‘amazing’ memory act is a loss thereof and on the high swing there’s a woman pulling numbers out of a hat.. A few clowns turn up now and then and shred paper. Sometimes they fall flat on their faces, but that’s more sad than amusing. The best bit was the gorilla, but they couldn’t see it.

  2. it was juvenal who is first recorded as using ‘panem et circenses’ as he castigated virtually everybody and everything about imperial rome. he would have had fun slagging off berlusconi methinks.

    is it just me or is the new greek pm a errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr banker? nice! at least he should know where the bodies are buried.

  3. and my personal tip for all the newly-unemployed greeks and italians about to be created is that they use their retained worker status and emigrate to oooh let’s see … germany perhaps? nothing to stop them. and of course greeks have a long and honourable tradition of going to germany to do the nasty jobs the germans are too prosperous to consider and send money home. they aren’t quite the feckless bunch some may be suggesting.

  4. The House of Commons is hardly full of technocrats. If anything, UK government is dominated by politicians with precious little real experience outside the Westminster bubble. A couple of definitions of technocrats :-

    1. An adherent or a proponent of technocracy.
    2. A technical expert, especially one in a managerial or administrative position.

    That’s precisely what we don’t have. What we do have is a government and opposition dominated by people whose only experience, training and, often education is in politics and little else. This is the Oxbridge, SPAD and career politician age – anything but technocrats.

    If you want to see a technocrat government, then look at China or Germany.

  5. @james c

    I suggest you might look up what the definition of a technocrat or a technocracy is before you make cynical comments like that.

    However, if I can take your comment as at least some implicit approval of the democratic credentials of the previous Greek and Italian governments as to what you appear to be presenting as an enforced and undemocratic takeover, may a point a few things out.

    1) both the Greek and Italian governments, and their respective electorate are perfectly free to make whatever economic decisions they like. However, they have to live with the consequences of such decisions. That they might think agreeing to EU conditions is the lesser of several evils (or not) is up to them. A democracy is still constrained by resources, economics, demographics and does not confer some magical ability to override them through some form of collective act of willpower.

    2) the democratically elected government of Greece has, over a period of several years, been guilty of explicitly corrupt practices, among which was the fraudulent manipulation of state financial figures to get them into the Euro in the first place. That the electorate was “bribed” by the Greek government through an unsustainable explosion in cheap credit (private and state), which was briefly enabled by such membership may well have been true. However, when it comes down to it, the electorate still voted for these people; they cannot escape the consequences.

    3) the Italian electorate have tolerated having a semi-corrupt and incompetent Prime Minister for three separate terms. This is despite his well known legal problems, scandalous behaviour, appalling comments and the stagnation of the Italian economy. Of course he had considerable media influence, but these were still well known facts in Italy.

    Essentially these are failures of democratic governments and their governing classes. Maddening as it might be, electorates cannot disown the consequences of those they voted for. It seems that electorates have short memories, and learn to ask hard questions and only take an interest in their own governance and economic management after some catastrophe. It is truly said that (at least in Western democracies), we get the governments we deserve. If it happens that we take the easy way out, and don’t ask difficult questions during the good times, woe betide us when the bad ones arrive. The Irish found this out the hard way when their unsustainable housing boom blew up. It is as true of the UK where nobody (including almost all the journalists in the BBC) cared to ask where the tripling of private debt during the late 90s and first few years of the 21st century was leading too. No, they preferred to keep their heads down and not ask difficult questions. Nobody appears to have questioned the catastrophic decline of the UK in the OECD educational league tables in the same period. Indeed the apologists for such are still around.

    The Italian and Greek situation are not down to technocratic or external imposition. They are failures of the democratic governments, their governing classes and far too many who failed to ask difficult questions. They are far from the only such governments – we are only partially saved through being able to perform a soft default on debts (private and state) through depreciation and devaluation at the expense of creditors.

    nb. I’d also recommend the latest issue of Prospect magazine where it is explained how all Western governments (to some extent or another) present state finances in a way that would be considered to be outright fraud in any private company.

  6. Very good, Steve. I suppose it is a matter of opinion whether the ‘technocrats’ were chosen for their ‘technocratic’ abilities or loyalty to the ECB and other creditors. To me they look like stooges, who will do the bidding of foreign powers rather than represent the national interests of the countries they are governing.

    • Well there’s some truth in that Germany and France will want terms which manage the Greek economy so as to minimise the impact on their own institutions and, so some extent, in their own image. However, it will fail – Greece is not, and never will be Germany. Basically Greece is insolvent – they might as well declare it so now and take the hit. It’s simply prolonging the problem. The Greek state is bankrupt and trying to minimise the impact on (especially) French banks isn’t going to work. Of course the bankruptcy alternative (which would mean leaving the Euro) is very nasty too – but it’s within the power of the Greek government to do it and they have some levers over the Euro powers.

      Italy is a bit different – it’s problem is primarily a sclerotic economy. I rather think it can be rescued without the catastrophe of going bankrupt with the right management. The sort of labour market reforms the Germans did post re-unification might work, albeit the Germans did it under a much more benign international environment.

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